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Biological treatment of wastewater generated by the pulp and paper industry through the production of algal biomass


Jean-Michel Lavoie, Professeur - Department of Chemical and Biotechnological Engineering
Faculté de génie
Département de génie chimique et de génie biotechnologique
2e cycle
3e cycle
Stage postdoctoral
Université de Sherbrooke

Project Description

The pulp and paper industry is a well-known producer of high quantities of wastewater, reaching up to 100 m3 of effluent per ton of produced paper, based on the employed process. Even if an important part of these effluents is recycled in the process, the use of chemicals such as whitening agents, significantly increase their toxicity. Thus, the pulp and paper industry has to treat locally the generated wastewater prior to its discharge, in order to avoid environmental contamination. 
The liquid waste effluents are manly characterized by high concentrations of organic and inorganic compounds generated by the decomposition of wood (tannins, resins, lignin, etc.) and chemical used during the process (lye, chlorinated substances, etc.). The specific nature and concentration of these pollutants varies based on the type of produced paper and plant technology. 
Microalgae are able to accumulate a diverse spectrum of organic and inorganic components from their environment. This process, known as phytoremediation, is largely employed to treat municipal and industrial waste-effluents, with a total carbon removal efficiency of above 85%. Moreover, this process can fix CO2 through the microalgal photosynthetic mechanisms, contributing thus to the current greenhouse-gas sequestration efforts. Unlike the sludge currently generated by the traditional wastewater treatment technologies, the microalgal biomass has a significant potential for exploitation and thus additional revenues. For instance, the main microalgal products such as the fatty acids, sugars, proteins and pigments, could be extracted and provide the base for biodiesel production (around 0.5$/kg), platform chemicals and specialty molecules (between 0.5-10 $/Kg) or personal-care products, flavors, pigments and other nutraceuticals (each valued at above 50 $/kg).

Discipline(s) by sector

Sciences naturelles et génie

Génie chimique

Funding offered



Kruger Brompton Inc.

The last update was on 13 March 2024. The University reserves the right to modify its projects without notice.